Nothing beats the smell of freshly baked gingerbread at Christmas
Nothing beats the smell of freshly baked gingerbread at Christmas, whether you’re making festive biscuits or building a house. But you don’t have to wait for Christmas; you can use the recipe for a gingerbread house to make a Nativity set during Advent. This will stay fresh for a week so if you want to eat it over Christmas make it a few days in advance. This recipe makes enough for three walls of gingerbread and all the Nativity figures. You can use this recipe to make a traditional gingerbread house also. Decorate with dolly mixture, chocolate buttons and whatever sweets you like.
You will need
680g plain flour, 2 tsp baking soda, 2 tsp ginger, 2 tsp cinnamon, 2 tsp mixed spice, 4tbsp maple flavoured golden syrup, 2 tbsp treacle, 3 egg yolks, 250g butter diced and orange zest.
Templates: Two 15.5cmx21cm rectangles, and one 22x22x18cm triangle, one Russian doll template for the nativity figures.
Icing glue: 500g icing sugar sifted, 2 egg whites, squeeze of lemon juice.
One 500g packet of fondant, food colour pastes.
Sift the dry ingredients together and then rub in the butter. Add the egg yolk, sugar, syrup and zest until the dough comes together. Chill in the fridge for one hour wrapped in cling film. Roll the dough out to 5mm thick and cut out your pieces. Lay on trays lined with baking parchment and chill for 30 minutes. Bake the pieces for the house first in a preheated oven of 170 degrees fan for 15 to 20 minutes. The smaller pieces will only need 12 to 15 minutes.
While the gingerbread is cooling, make the icing glue. Beat the ingredients for five minutes using an electric mixer. Cover a board with baking parchment or tin foil. Place the icing in a piping bag and pipe along the edges and base of the ginger bread wall and roof. Stick together onto the board using cans to support the structure until the icing has set.
Divide the fondant into several pieces and roll into balls. Colour each ball with your food colouring and then roll them out and cut out using your figure template. Dust the biscuits with icing sugar and sprinkle over a few drops of water so the fondant sticks.
When each biscuit is decorated, pipe on eyes and mouths with writing icing or edible ink. Arrange your nativity figures around the crib, securing in place with the remaining icing glue. Place in the centre of the room to allow the delicious scent of gingerbread waft over the house.